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SteelSeries’ Nimbus Controller Review

The Nimbus controller, from SteelSeries, is a perfect way to take your mobile gaming to the next level. It features all of the face buttons, analog sticks, triggers, and bumpers that our modern day consoles have, making it feel like you are still at home gaming, even if you are on the road.

Introduction

I’m sure many of you can relate to the amazing feeling of playing video games on the go. There’s nothing new about playing games mobile, and most of us have experienced the rough days of Gameboy (without the backlight), but for sure everyone has experienced this style of gaming one time or another. Even if it was just snake on calculators. Just as our experiences gaming at home grow and evolve, so too does out mobile gaming. Hands down I suggest you get a Nintendo 3DS (or a Nintendo Switch now, I guess) or a PSVita, but if you get a certain buzz by playing games on iPads and iPhones, I have a suggestion for you; Nimbus from SteelSeries. A gamepad that connects via Bluetooth and gives you the opportunity to feel a little more at home, even if you’re not.

You can pick up the controller for about $50 USD here.

Design

The Nimbus controller is a sleek little device that comes in either black or white color. The design is a nice middle ground between the popular PS4 controller and Xbox controller. It features 4 face buttons on the right that are marked ‘Y’, ‘B’, ‘A’, and ‘X’, and are payed out just like on the Xbox controllers. Mirroring their placement, on the left side is a directional pad with long arms reaching in the four standard directions. Below all these face buttons, and in the middle of the controller, are the two analog sticks. 

They are concave in build and feature the comfortable rubber grip while the analog stick beneath is made of plastic. In the direct middle of them all are 4 lights used to symbolize which player you are, and a big menu button that acts as a pause button for most games. Rotating the controller to look at the top/back, you’ll find two shoulder buttons and two triggers. These are labeled the standard ‘R1’, ‘R2’, ‘L1’, and ‘L2’. 

In between them is the charging port, the power switch for the controller, and the Bluetooth pairing button. A very nice and standard design for a controller that features everything you could want when it comes to mobile gaming. If you don’t play any console system, and would therefore be used to some other features, then it’s perfect. 

But I do have a few complaints, even if they are extremely minor after greater consideration. The first one is that the analog sticks don’t click. ‘R3’ and ‘L3’ buttons are not a thing here, which is strange to feel as they are important features for sprinting in most games and melee attacks in first-person ones. Games that are developed for the iPhone and iPad typically have simplistic control schemes so it’s not a genuine issue when gaming, but more of a comfort thing personally. Everything about the controller is responsive and sturdy though. The analog sticks have a wonderful amount of resistance, and the triggers do too. 

The shoulder buttons are strange in size. They are large flat buttons that you can never get a decent finger placement on. They were definitely designed for the aesthetics rather than comfort and use. Part of the issue is that they are flush with the rest of the controller, rather than sticking out slightly. 

Nimbus Controller Side View Shoulder Buttons

Connecting to a Library of Games

To connect the controller, you’ll go into your settings, turn on Bluetooth, turn on the controller, and initiate the pairing by pressing the Bluetooth button on the controller. It’ll take you to the App Store where you must download the Nimbus companion app. At first I thought this was a lame way to have to get my controller up and running, but it’s actually a huge blessing. 

You can check the connection between device and controller, check the firmware version and update it if necessary, read a guide for all your controller questions, and most importantly scroll through a huge list of all the games compatible with the controller. Instead of browsing the App Store only to be disappointed that some games don’t work, you can browse them here. You can even initiate the purchase and download through this app which will drag in the App Store via a small window. It’s very well done and feels extremely polished. I was unable to test how well it works with Apple TV. 

Nimbus Controller Bluetooth Pairing and Connectivity

Conclusion

Not too long ago I was really into iPhone games. Whether they were the soul draining time based ones like Clash of Clans or Hay Day, card games like solitaire, RPGs like the Dungeon Hunter games, and more. Eventually using the screen as a monitor and a controller at the same time got old. The more complex the game is, the more fun it’s supposed to be, but also the more annoying it is to control. My love for mobile gaming has returned though, and is in full force. I had to bust out both iPad minis just so I had enough storage for all of the games I want to play. The Nimbus from SteelSeries is easily the coolest and most reliable accessory you can get for you Apple products. Again, I don’t have or use Apple TV, so I can’t comment fully on that aspect, but for the iPads it’s everything to ask for and then some.

ProsCons
 + Better controls than the touch screens – No lightning charger included
 + Easy pairing with strong connection – Shoulder buttons were built for design not comfort
 + 40 hours of battery charge 
 + Nimbus App makes finding games easy 

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